In the latest of his 'Simon Says' newsletters, team manager Simon Buckmaster responds to criticism of the seven-strong PTR-supported line-up in the 2012 World Supersport Championship...
“There have been a few things said on various websites about our team by armchair pundits without a clue - mainly saying that I am making a fortune from managing a race team. I thought it would be a good idea to put the record straight.
“In the current financial climate we are working harder than ever to make the numbers balance but we have managed to do so. There are no banker bonuses here; this is all about bringing together the best riders we can on to the best bikes we can build against a backdrop of losing a title sponsor from financially stricken Portugal.
“Last year we ran four bikes all the time to exactly the same level and when James Ellison got to grips with things he too challenged for victory with Sam Lowes. We also ran at a number of rounds the PTR Romania Honda and as such five riders. We are now only doing the same thing. For years Ten Kate has supported many teams and everyone seemed happy with this. PTR is now following a similar proven business model.
“Another point raised was that certain staff changes might weaken our team. Without beating around the bush Mark Woodage did a good job and was crew chief for Eugene in 2009 when he finished runner up in the Championship the first time. He then went on to work with Miguel in 2010 and then Ellison for most of 2011. We have gone our separate ways now and we remain friends - I wish him all the best in his new roles with Wilson Craig Racing and the new Splitlath Aprilia team.
“PTR is and always has been about team work and Carl Meakin and Paul Williamson as crew chiefs together overseeing development have stepped up and our team has gone from strength to strength over the winter. Our other staff members Matt Llloyd, Ben Fry, Chris Anderson, Sam Neate, Mark Kelly and Jamie Ferguson have all worked well together to put us in the best position yet as we head to Philip Island for round one.
“We have PTR Honda with Ronan Quarmby who I believe will be a force and now Jules Cluzel who I also think will be right there in the fight. Sam Lowes has moved across the garage to Bogdanka PTR Honda and will be joined by Mathew Scholtz. Sam learnt a lot last year and starts as one of the title favourites; Mathew tested well in Almeria and will also be right up there fighting.
“Our sister team Bogdanka Racing is a supported PTR team and will run Pawel Szkopek and PJ Jacobsen. Pawel had a best result of 12th last year and like Miguel Praia with Parkalgar I am sure will go from strength to strength and I will be surprised if he does not get at least one top 10 finish this year. PJ at 18 has a great future in front of him. I expect him to get better and better all year. Let's see how far up the field he can get. I am not going to predict positions now as there is no need for undue pressure. He has time on his side and will be another strong rider to emerge from the USA. It is about time we saw another talent emerge from that side of the Atlantic.
“Martin Jessopp rides as a sole rider in Riders PTR Honda. He brings with him his technicians from BSB - crew chief Lee and his chassis man Greg. He was impressively consistent in our Almeria test and I am sure we can all learn from each other and take the whole team forward. He was runner up in his last Superbike ride in Macau and I am sure will surprise all when the lights go out in Australia on the 26th February.
“Our rider line up is also the strongest ever and whilst I anticipate Sam to lead the team Jules, Ronan Mathew and Martin are certainly not going to make things easy for him and that's before we start on the returning Kenan Sofuoglu. The Turk beat us in 2010 so let's take the fight to him and the rest of the field and go one better in 2012. PJ and Pawel will build as the season goes on. This is the most exciting year yet for the PTR team and I for one can't wait to get going. I have to say a big thank you again for the tremendous effort the team staff has made to get us in such good shape for the start of the season.
“Hope to see as many of you as possible in Philip Island.”